NOTE OF UBER IMPORTANCE!: OK, so this is this another version of my other story 'Life after Death'. I was basically writing V.1 when I had this idea of Arya becoming a rider. I couldn't decide if I should alter the plot or not, so I wrote both of them! Everything in this chapter is basically stuff everyone who was reading 'Life after Death' except for the last few paragraphs. So IF YOU'VE BEEN READING LIFE AFTER DEATH, READ THE LAST FEW PARAGRAPHS AND MOVE ON, EVERYTHING ELSE IS STUFF YOU'VE ALREADY READ! However, if you are new to this fic, on account of AutumnWhiteWolf productions, we thank you for choosing us, the barf bags are in your seat pocket, so please sit back and enjoy the ride! XD
Eragon! Hold on!
I'm trying Saphira! The wind... it's...
Eragon couldn't concentrate on thinking long enough to finish that sentence. He had to focus every muscle, every thought, on gripping as tightly as he could on the saddle horn before him. The wind billowing and swirling around him seemed to be trying to lift him off and away from Saphira, or drive him forward to one of her deadly neck spikes.
Saphira had long ago grown to tired to fight the winds, and navigate through the torrential rain the storm was producing, and was now tumbling through the sky, helpless. Eragon knew what was happening, Brom had warned him about it. The heavy atmospheric pressure was pushing him towards the ground, but the rising heat was holding them up. The storms was the most dangerous here, it was fiercest, and hardest to fly in, right where they were stuck. Eragon had been an idiot, and now they couldn't escape.
Suddenly, a new feeling crawled across his skin. Like a million small insects, it rolled across his arms, face, neck, and legs. His hair raised. A strange ringing filled his ears. He was about to ask Saphira if she felt it too, when a white hot, blazing pain seared through him. It lit his blood on fire, and he could feel his skin began to burn, and smell the cooking flesh in the air. Saphira roared in agony and they began to plummet. Saphira's weak wings no longer able to keep them upright.
All Eragon knew was pain. It was more severe than anything he had ever felt. Worse than when Brom died, worse than Glaedr's pain over the loss of his rider, worse than anything Durza's curse had inflicted upon him. Eragon could not fight it, and he felt his will crumpling. He felt his body shrink within itself, trying feebly to hide from the fire. Somehow, Eragon recognized what he was doing.
He was running away. He was begin a coward. Wasn't that all he ever did? Run away from his problems, his fears? He ran away from his farm, and his uncle died. He ran away from Durza and Brom died. He had run after Durza and Ajihad had died. So many of his loved ones... well not this time. Eragon pulled himself out of his cocoon and faced the pain head on, even taking some from Saphira and adding to his load. The last thing he thought before he blacked out was Saphira...The bolt of lightning flashed across the Sky, mocking it's latest victim with an unflinching cruelty.
-Two Weeks Later-
Eragon felt... fuzzy all over. His skin still tingled with warmth, but no longer a searing fire. His mind felt strangely clear, like someone had washed all the impurities and pain away, leaving him only with himself and...
Open your eyes, Little One.
Sa-Saphira. What happened?
We fell from the sky after being struck by a bolt of lightning. I do not remember anything from that time, except for the pain. But we are alive. And different.
Open your eyes Eragon.
Eragon tried to do as she asked, but as he did, the light streamed heavily into his sockets, burning his retnas. He flinched back, clamping his eyes shut. Tears streamed lightly from the corners of his eyes.
Eragon heaved a mental sigh and did as she asked. Opening his eyes the tiniest fraction did not hurt as much this time, and over the course of almost five minutes, he had them fully opened, and was astonished. They had changed. First his eyes were drawn to the mighty Dragon curled around him. She was at least three times bigger than she had been before, even bigger than Glaedr had been.
Her face had become more angular and smooth. Her eyes a deeper blue, her scales more luminous, and her teeth whiter and sharper. She was the most beautiful dragon he had ever seem, even out of the hundreds he had seen in pictures from the elves libraries.
You have changed as well, Eragon.
Have I? Eragon muttered the spell to see through her eyes, and let a shocked gasp blow between his lips. Even through the blue tint of Saphira's eyes, he could see that his own eyes were no longer hazel, but a shockingly bright sapphire blue, the same as Saphira's. His hair had a grown a tint lighten, more like caramel now. His face too had reconstructed itself. Less like an elf, though not quite a human. Just something wild, something dangerous. His body was wrapped in a tight sinewy muscle. He was not bulky and cumbersome, but instead lithe. He was reminded of a wolf, somehow. Eragon was by no means vain, or narcissistic, but he had never seen a more beautiful man than the one reflected in Saphira's eyes.
His eyes were then drawn to the world around them. To the north, trees had be cast down, trunks splintered, and even charred. The ground was shredded and churned up from where Saphira had landed. But this was not what held his attention. He could see everything. The leaves on the trees lost no definition, no matter how far away they were. He could see the veins running through each and every one, even the small insects that crawled along their surface. Every blade of grass, every strip of bark, every animal and everything around him for miles.
Then he realized he could smell and taste it as well. The leaves were sharp and bitter, where as a mouse scuttling through the leaf litter was warm and nutty. Morning dew glittered on every surface and cast rainbows glinting in all directions. He had never seem like this before, he had never even guessed at the definition the world could bring. It was baffling, and he lay in awe. A wind blew and the once light rustle of the leaves in the trees roared around him like and ocean wave crashing around his head.
Saphira... what happened to us? Everything is so... so...
Amazing? I can only guess that as we fell, my Magic felt our pain and healed us, and in addition, made us they we are now. Rise Little One, there is more.
More? How could there possibly be more?
As soon as Eragon thought to get up, he was up. The movement was instantaneous. He moved faster than the eye could see, even to his eyes the movement was little more than a blur. It was also soundless. Eragon grinned. Sight. Speed. Strength? Eragon looked around the destroyed clearing. He found a large rock that had been churned out of the ground. He placed his palm face down on the surface and exerted a small amount of pressure on it. It crumbled beneath his fingers and he grinned.
"From strength comes magic." He murmured to himself, remembering his fathers words. Eragon drew upon his reserves of magic, moving his hand from the pile of gravel to the forest floor. Probing it with his mind, he felt various things beneath him. Worms, rodents, tree roots, but even farther below that, he felt the glowing presence of precious gems. He grinned and pulled them up out of the ground, keeping a careful check on his strength.
When he felt no more in the ground, he cut of his power and opened his eyes. The only fatigue he felt was feather light, a barely noticeable caress in the depths of his mind. In front of him he saw the glittering raw forms of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz, diamonds, and pure gold. By themselves, they were to small to be of any value. They looked more like dust than gems. Eragon drew on his strength and murmured the words that would bond them together: diamonds to diamonds, gold to gold, and so on.
Together, they were much more noticeable, the ruby about the size of his skull, the diamond the size of his fist. Everything varied, and Eragon smiled. The gems were more than enough to keep a small town afloat for many years, being quite a considerable fortune. He tucked the stones into his bag, unsure of what to do with them.
He bent his knees and leaped. He noticed as he was airborne that his mind seemed to function better. He was more capable of making calculations, he came to conclusions easier, and his thoughts seemed more languid. He landed squarely on Saphira's back, pleased that he had been able to leap all the way up; a feat he could never have done before without the aid of magic.
Saphira chuckled at his exuberance, and with one powerful down thrust, they were in the air, and flying off for Feinster. It had been a simple mission for him. Get to Surda, talk to the councilors in place of Nasuada, bring back some documents. No one had been expecting the storm, and they probably thought he was dead, or worse, captured by Galbatorix. He would have to think of a way to convince them that it was indeed him. Magic of course, he would show Arya his memories.
Eragon had a pleasant time flying back, more so than he normally would have. He and Saphira found great pleasure in using their new eyes to view their surroundings in ways they wouldn't have been able to do before. They had taken to counting the number of deer they saw until they reached the city. The sun was setting, illuminating the sky in glorious tones of gold, pink, and violet, when they saw Feinster on the horizon.
At first, both Dragon and Rider were unsure of their location, because what had been a three day trip south, had taken them only a day flying north, and with a prevailing wind. But there was no doubt. The Varden's tents were stationed outside the walls, and he could see the Surdan banners flapping in the strong winds. Eragon had long been able to count the bricks in the wall, at almost five miles away, when the alarm drums began to beat an invasion rhythm. A volley of arrows sped towards them, and he raised his hand, putting a magic barrier around Saphira and himself. He sent out a probe and found Arya in place on the wall. She seemed to have recognized him and sadness coated her minds presence; she apparently thought he had been captured.
Her barriers were strong but he was stronger. He did not delve into her mind, just burrowed under the first layer so she could hear his thoughts. Arya! I'm still me! I promise that I am not in the service of the King! He said in the ancient language.
Eragon? He saw her hold up her hand, and from two miles, he could hear her call out "Cease! Our Rider Eragon has returned a free rider! Someone get Nasuada!" She turned her attention back to Eragon and thought Where have you been?! What has happened to you? Saphira is...
It is a very long story. In short we were struck by lightning and Saphira's dragon magic altered us, but the whole story will have to wait until the whole council is with us, for it is a long one I would prefer not to repeat.
Very well. Nasuada is on her way.
With that last comment, he pulled out of Arya's mind with a smirk. He landed before the great gates of Feinster. He realized that Saphira would no longer fit inside the city streets without crushing buildings and causing havoc. He could smell Arya's sharp pine fragrance nearing them, and his mind grew dizzy for a moment. Saphira chuckled.
Arya came sprinting around the corner of the gates, her breath coming slightly faster than it normally would. Her hair splayed around her, and Eragon gasped. As she drew closer, he could pick out things he had never noticed before. Her skin glowed with a light, as if radiating with magic. Her black hair fell in waves from her head, glittering in the dim sunset light.
He could not help but notice other things about her, more sinful things that had his cheeks blazing like the sunset, and he hoped that evening light would mask his embarrassment. He unfastened himself from the saddle and leaped down the forty feet that would have shattered the bones of any human or elf. He rose from his crouched landing position and trotted over to her.
Arya's eyes were wide and suspicious, and though it was obvious that she was trying to keep her emotions in check, a look of what Eragon could only assume was astonishment over his return twitched its way onto her face, or maybe it was his new appearance. "Shadeslayer, it is wonderful to know that you are unharmed, and that you have returned to us in even better condition that you left us in."
"Hello to you too." He smirked, his tone slightly sarcastic in the face of her pleasantries. Looking down at her, Eragon realized that he had grown a considerable amount as well, now looking down at Arya by almost six inches, where as before it had only been two.
No one else but Eragon would have been able to see the disapproving grimace ghost across Arya's features. It was obvious that she had been wanting something more formal, something that would give her an excuse to ask him about his absence. Eragon sensed this and said "You'll know everything as soon as the others get here." Eragon raised his nose to the air and sniffed gently, and action that was not missed by Arya. The air was filled with the scents of the city. Cooking food, stone and smoke, but he focused on those even closer. Fine linen, fresh earth, and blood along with the sweat of horses greeted him. He guessed that Nasuada, Orik, and an Urgal representative was accompanying the group, along with King Orrin.
"Ah, here they are." Eragon said.
Arya sent him a confused look and parted her lips as if about to say something when the group rounded the great gates. Arya instead murmured under her breath "I am expecting a full explanation of this."
"Of course." He promised.
By now, Nasuada's group had trotted their way out of the city. Nasuada tried to bring their group towards them, but the horses they rode were skittish, and shied away from Saphira. Eragon reached them with his mind, reassuring them. Nasuada noticed his concentrated gaze and grinned thankfully, drew closer, and spoke. "Shadeslayer! It brings me great joy to see that you have returned to us unharmed, and as the messenger told me, a free rider. Is this true?"
"Yes." Eragon answered in the ancient language.
"Very well. I also assume there is a story behind all of this as well." Nasuada gestured towards him and Saphira.
"Yes, but I suggest we venture to more private quarters, and seeing as Saphira can no longer fit inside your walls, might I suggest a different location?"
"Please lead the way, Eragon Shadeslayer." King Orrin said, gesturing out towards the forest. Eragon nodded and turned, jogging into the wooded area.
Saphira leaped into the air and soared above them. Eragon already knew where they were going, having noted the clearing as they were flying into the city. It was about a fourth of a mile away from the walls and large enough to house their entire party. As they breached the barrier of foliage surrounding the empty space, Eragon once again called on his reserves of magic, asking the roots of the trees to grow into a large earthen table, with six seats surrounding it.
He had just finished molding the top of the table when the others emerged from the forest. All eyes were wide, but none more so than Arya's who alone knew the amount of magic necessary to create it, and in such short time. Her mind brushed his.
How are you not exhausted, Shadeslayer?
All in good time, Shadeslayer. He laughed lightly under his breath as Arya's brows moved together and a frown settled on her face. He pulled out of her mind as they all seated themselves. Nasuada claimed the seat on his right, and King Orrin seated himself in the one on his left. Once all was settled he began.
"Before I begin, I would like to know the duration of my absence, for I do not know it myself." His eyes cast around the circle, looking for an answer.
King Orrin answered him. "Two weeks, four days, Shadeslayer."
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Arya's frown gain definition.
"Thank you. Well, two weeks, three days ago, you all know that I left Feinster with the orders to carry out a diplomatic run to Surda. I was able to do so, and departed from Surda on schedule. Notably, it was one of the more unintelligent things I could have done. I wished to return to the Varden as soon as I could, and because of that, I disregarded the very plain signs of a storm brewing in the northern sky.
"I should have stayed in Surda, and because I did not, Saphira and I were caught in a very dangerous place. In every storm, there is a layer between updrafts of hot air, and cold air clouds. It is where many things happen. Tornado's form, rain is created, and also lighting is most dangerous and numerous. Because of the winds pressing in on us from all sides, and the violent rain, we had no choice but to let the winds have us. It was then that we were struck by a bolt of lightning.
"I'm not sure how long we were thrashed about in the sky, or how long it was until we crashed to the ground, only that I never wish to be struck by lightening again. The pain overwhelmed us both. I can only imagine that being dipped into a cauldron of boiling pitch would be more pleasurable than that. Regardless, something happened during that time, and we can only guess that Saphira's magic saved us, and turned us into what you see before you, as well as enhancing our bodies and minds.
Orik spoke. "What do you mean, brother?"
"I shall demonstrate." Without standing, Eragon used all his speed, so that none other than Saphira could see flit to the opposite side of the table. As Eragon appeared out of thin air behind Arya, he laid a hand on her shoulder and said "Speed." Once again, he disappeared to the west end, where a large rock lay, unmovable by human hands. He laid his palm face down on it like he had the first time and squeezed. It shattered. "Strength." Moving his palm to the ground, he pulled up the gems and precious stones, like he had before.
He brought them out of the ground, and just thought the words that would let him mold the stones at his will. He crossed his arms over his chest, and sent the stones circling above the the table, molding together before there eyes. He laid them down gently, a different stone before each member of the Varden. A ruby before King Orrin, and Sapphire or Orik, and Topaz before the Urgal who's name Eragon still didn't know. He had collected the most emerald on purpose, and had even tinted it slightly to match the exact color of Arya's eyes, and set that before her, while he gave and large diamond and a gold orb to Nasuada.
"Magic" He said strongly, no falter in his voice, and no sweat on his forehead. What would normally have knocked him unconscious, or even killed him, gave him nothing but a slightly faster heart beat. The members of the Varden were staring at their gems in awe. Eragon spent this quiet moment studying the rainbows cast by the shimmering stones, the ones he knew that he alone could see. Nasuada spoke up, tears making her voice jumpy.
"Eragon Bromsson Shadeslayer, a better gift you could not have given. This will feed and clothe our people more many months to come. And though it was through no small amount of pain and sorrow on your part, I can not help but rejoice at the greater gift you have given us. The Black King stands no chance against you, and he shall surely fall."
Nasuada's small speech brought determined grins to everyone's face and she nodded. She rose and spoke again. "I am off. I have already planned on how to best utilize this, and must return to the city."
"I shall accompany you. Thank you again, Shadeslayer." King Orrin said. The Urgal and Orik left as well, with the Dwarf giving him a hearty punch to Eragon's gut, and saying "Welcome back." The only one left in the clearing other than Eragon and Saphira was Arya. He flitted behind her and as he had before, laid his hand on her shoulder. He felt her jump beneath his hand, and he could hear he heart speed up.
"Gods, Eragon! Snap a twig next time." She said before she could compose herself.
"I apologize. Are you alright?" He asked, concerned, he sat next to her.
"I am well. Simply... astonished. Even I, who is considered one of our better spell casters, would not be able to do all you have done with out dying more than once over. And your strength and speed..." Arya shivered beneath her, and Eragon detected only the faintest hints of a blush trace her skin, and that confused him. "I do not understand."
"Neither do we, but it doesn't matter weather or not we understand, only that we can use this to defeat the King."
"You have grown wiser as well..."
"I'm not sure about that, only time will tell. And there are so many things about this that we don't know about. Is it permanent, can it be taken away? Also other things, where does it end, what are my limits, what about mind breaking skills? As well as swordsmanship... There are so many unknowns, I'm sure this could just as easily become a curse."
"I suppose. Would you be willing to accept help, if you feel this could become dangerous? I would be happy to assist you."
"Of course." Eragon said, his bright blue eyes lighting up.
"Try to break into my mind." She instructed.
"Very well." He said, closing his eyes, he prepared himself. He was judging his force on what her barriers had seemed to be before. He grossly overestimated the necessary force. He sent a spike towards her mind, and found that he could brush past her barriers easily. She yelped in pain and he hurriedly pulled out of her mind. He looked towards Arya to see a grimace on her face, teeth bared, and clutching her head in one hand, her other begin clenched into a fist on her lap.
Eragon shrunk before her, fearing one of her anger spells. Instead she gasped, her breath coming in pants. "Very good." She winced.
"Arya Drottingu, my deepest apologies. I, uh, suppose I do not know my own strengths." He winced at the cliched words.
"It is alright Eragon. It was to be expected.
"Yes." She rose from her seat, shaking her head to clear away the head ache. "Now, as for your swordsmanship." She drew her lithe elven blade from it's sheath. Eragon grinned lightly and drew Brisingr from his sheath. For the rest of the night, they did not spar as much as they practiced forms and techniques, teaching each other what they knew. The night drew on until the moon reach it's zenith, and then passed some, before they returned to the city.
Go to the city, Little One. Sleep and feast. I too must hunt, but I will rejoin you in the morning.
Yes, Saphira. Rest and hunt well.
Arya sat down on one of the seats with a huff. "And you feel no fatigue?"
"None at all."
"Incredible. Well, I must return, for I tire. I suggest you seek out Nasuada, she can find you somewhere to rest."
"Alright. To Feinster, then." They rose and made their way into the city.
..--The Next Day--..
Eragon awakened to golden sunlight streaming through the window of the small house he had been given. The owners had abandoned it during the fight, and the new recruits to the Varden had occupied all the extra tents. He used magic to shave, and dressed in tan leather pants, a white tunic, and a black leather vest to go over top. He belted Brisingr to his side, and slung his quiver and bow over his back.
Once prepared for the day, he left the house for the city. The cobblestone streets were dusty, and still splattered with blood in places from when the Varden had taken Feinster not even two fort nights ago. Eragon grimaced and searched for an inn where he could have breakfast. He found such place almost fifteen minutes later. It was packed with people, both citizens of Feinster, and people of the Varden, some of which he recognized.
Walking up to the bar, he asked a man for some ale, and the best cut of meat they had, along with a sufficient supply of potatoes and greens. The man looked sceptically at the boy, who he assumed had no money at all, but changed his mind when Eragon retrieved his bulging coin purse and asked "How much will that be?"
Eragon sat down to his feast, heartily digging in to soothe his grumbling stomach. Though it was the custom of the elves to shy from meats, Eragon had long since dispelled the notion, having been raised on meats his whole life. He was quick to devour the suckling pig, and slices of beef on his platter. There were copious amounts of everything, and he was pleased to share it with any of his friends that happened to be there.
After the feast, he left in good spirits. He wandered the streets for hours, doing whatever struck his fancy. He found an armory and purchased a brand new volley of arrows. At a tailor, he browsed their selection of tunics, leggings, belts, vests, and other such things. He found three tunics, red, blue, and black, that he liked a purchased them as well. He sun had crept high into the sky and he was still taking in the scenery.
Eventually he was on the far side of the city. The great marble wall loomed over him, sunlight glittering on it's polished walls. Looking around himself, he found no beggars, no cripples, and no poverty. The city was so much different than some places he had been, it brought a broad smile to his face. Horses trotted along the streets, and cats purred, twining themselves through the legs of their loved ones, or simply basking at their owners heels. Dogs barks, chasing mice and rats in the alley ways and children laughed as they ran through the streets.
Though he had been disturbed ever since the soldier had cursed him during the siege of Feinster, asking him why he couldn't have just left well enough alone, Eragon felt happiness within himself. He knew what he was doing was right. Under Nasuada and Orrin's careful rule, prosperity had sprung up everywhere. Children laughed and wives whistled happy tunes while they awaited for their valiant husbands to return from the war. It wasn't like this in Dras Leona, and definitely not in Uru'baen.
A voice rang out behind him, and he eagerly turned to meet it, a smile on his face. "Shadeslayer."
"Hello, Arya." He twisted his two fingers to his lips and bowed.
She returned the gesture. "I was wondering if you wished to resume training today."
"Any little bit would help. I do believe I neglected to thank you last night though, so I shall now. I learned much from you." He smirked.
Arya's heart fluttered against her will, and she prayed his heightened hearing could not detect it. "You're welcome. Shall we return to the same clearing."
Eragon nodded. "After you."
The walk outside the city was long and quiet, but not uncomfortable. Comments were made from time to time on the cities architecture, or a shop of some sort, but it never bloomed into conversation. As they passed under the North Wall, Eragon spotted Saphira lounging on the top of the wall. He noticed Solembum nestled into the crook of her enormous arm. She watched him like an eagle would a mouse.
"Will you be joining us?" He asked, not caring to say it mentally.
I would never be able to fit in that small meadow. No, I will remain here, and alert you of any news. Have fun, though.
Thus, the afternoon continued as Eragon walked out into the forest, with Arya by his side. Little to Eragon's knowledge, Arya was watching him closely from the corner of her eyes. Arya could not help but feel the air around her smolder as she watched the fair young rider. Clenching her fists at her sides, she forced the feelings back into dormancy. When her face was a mask yet again, she tentatively allowed her thoughts back into the front of her mind.
Arya was using her best political mindset as she analyzed Eragon. He was charming, funny, courteous, kind, and loving. He was everything any woman could ever hope for in a husband. He was strong, handsome, wealthy, and had a promising future, and on top of that was a Dragon Rider. Of course, that last reason was why she couldn't let her feelings extend further than friendship.
Eragon was the hop of the whole world. Everyone's lives depended on him defeating the King. With out him the world would be doomed to crumble under the King's merciless fist. She had seen one to many infatuated elves and humans completely lose sense of who they were when they were in love and Arya refused to allow that to happen to Eragon. Even if it meant she was in pain...
It had started slowly for Arya, back when Eragon had announced his feelings for her at the Blood Oath Celebration. It was a slowly growing ember it the pit of her stomach, and every word he said to her or look he gave her blew fresh air onto it, making to grow. She had kindled it unwillingly inside her for months now refusing to let it burst into flames. Every time it threatened to do so, she would douse it with the cold, unhappy facts that surrounded them. Age, status, her mother, the Varden. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, once again running through the facts in her mind... Then she noticed Eragon had frozen in his tracks. Saphira's voice boomed out to them.
Donne your armor Little Ones. Murtagh is on the horizon with soldiers at his heals.
Yes. I was flying over the country on my way back when I saw him on the horizon, with the glittering armor of thirty thousand soldiers marching below him. Go! Alert Nasuada and the others. Have them gather the Varden and Elves. I will contact Jourmunder and Orik and have them rally their men. There is no time to waste!
Very well. We shall see you soon. Arya answered her back, and Saphira left their minds.
Together they left the small clearing, at the gates they split with hurried words with Arya off to find the elves and Eragon back to his house, as fast as they could. Once inside, Eragon put on his armor. He took time to infuse the metal with spells and enchantments that he would not have dreamed of before, before setting out for the gates. As he opened the doors, he saw that the happy city had transformed into a battle ready safe point. Citizens ran towards the center of the city, tugging along pets and crying children, while soldiers ran, armor glinting towards the city walls.
He ran into the group, quickly getting to the front. He yelled out "March positions!" The soldiers recognized his voice and made haste to follow the Dragon Rider's orders. They arrived at the wall and he said "Find your commanders with all haste. Murtagh and a company of soldiers are on the horizon. They want the blood of your families on their swords; are you going to let them have it?" He shouted.
The soldiers roared raucously and took off towards their positions. Eragon saw Saphira circling over head. He leaped fifty feet into the air, and she swooped below him. He landed in the saddle, and grinned at the hearty cheer of the Varden as they saw their Dragon Rider take flight. He buckled himself into the saddle and Saphira took him to the main gates where the other commanders stood discussing battle strategy. Eragon looked southwestward and saw Thorn approaching quickly. There were only fifty or so miles between them.
The Varden had mustered in numbers outside of the city, but Eragon could see that they were short almost ten thousand men compared to what Murtagh had brought. It will be my job, then, to even the odds. He thought to himself and Saphira. They set down in front of the gates, and Arya, Nasuada, Jourmunder, King Orrin, and his cousin approached him.
"Greetings, Eragon. Are you ready to fight?" Nasuada asked.
"With no great pleasure, yes, I am."
Arya spoke, Eragon was surprised to find sorrow in her voice. "What will you do, when the time comes to kill him, Eragon? Take no pity on him, for the sake of us all."
"I am aware. I will do what I must to protect my loved ones. Well, the ones that are left." He added on darkly and dryly.
Arya too grimaced, knowing he was specifically talking about about her and his cousin. "Be safe."
"You stay safe too." He added so just she could hear I know it displeases you when I say it, but it would cause me much grief if you were no longer a part of this world. Stay safe. Woil ono. For me.
He pulled out of her mind then, and saluted to Nasuada before Saphira leaped into the air, carrying them towards yet another heartbreak.
I'm sorry it must be this way, Little One.
Don't apologize Saphira. Murtagh never wanted this life, anyway. I will avenge him when I kill the King.
You better. I fear that this battle might not go well. Murtagh will be stronger than last time.
But so are we. And you never know; we may not even have to fight. Perhaps Thorn will me so overwhelmed by your stunning appearance that he will drown in his own drool.
Do not be so foolish, Eragon. It does not suit you.
Eragon just grinned at their attempts to make the other feel better. A grim shroud, however, still fell about them as they neared the troops. Murtagh wheeled away from them, heading perpendicular to the oncoming forces, soaring off towards empty space. It is clear he wants us to follow him, and we will, but not before we even our odds.
Saphira swept down above the Empire's soldiers, Eragon's wards protecting them from spears, javelins, and arrows. Eragon unbuckled his legs from the saddle and felt Saphira's grim acknowledgment as he leaped the sixty or so feet from the saddle to the ground. Overhead, Saphira let loose a torrent of blue flames, row after row of the soldiers fell, cooked inside their own armor. Eragon drew his sword, and it burst into flames at his will.
Eragon's mind drifted into a haze, blurring from image to image. A red mist surrounded him, but weather it was blood lust or the quite literal mist of blood he had stirred from his victims veins he didn't know. Slash, stab, lunge, parry, block, slash. The pattern went on and on until at least fifty men had fallen to him and he was surrounded by a wall of bodies. It must have been thousands that they killed before Eragon said "Enough. The Varden will survive this. We must go meet Murtagh." Saphira nodded and as Eragon leaped into the air once more, Saphira was there to catch him. She redoubled her already impressive speed, in search of the other rider.
They found him hovering over an abandoned field. No human, elf, dwarf, or urgal could be sensed from almost two miles in any direction. He came to hover in front of his step brother. Neither he nor Saphira missed the looks on their adversaries faces as they took in the changes. Eragon reached for his sword.
Murtagh spoke. "Not yet Brother, not yet. We have things to speak of before you kill me."
Eragon did not speak for a few moments. "You sound as if you know this battles outcome already."
"Because I do, though it won't be much of a battle. We no longer wish to live. Life is no longer sweet, there is nothing left for us."
"Murtagh..." Eragon whispered.
"First though, I have information that might interest you."
"What would that be?"
"The King's strength comes from-"
Eragon cut him off. "The dragon's eldunari."
"Yes. And because of those he-"
"Has gained the power of the deceased dragons."
"Yes. You're rather good at this, aren't you?"
Eragon shrugged. "Anything else?"
"Yes, actually." Murtagh reached into his saddle pads and retrieved something that made Eragon's eyes bulge out. In his brother's hands was an emerald orb. It was swirled with, from what Eragon could see, was four different shades of green, and then a pearly, glossy, white. It was the last dragon egg. Murtagh tossed it from where he sat and it landed squarely in Eragon's hands. He looked at it with wonder.
"Murtagh... Brother. You stole this from the King?"
"Well, I was already set on dying, so I had nothing to lose. And I promise that it is the real dragon egg, and not an article of anyone's mischief." Murtagh said this is the ancient language.
"Well, I could not give you greater thanks. It is everything we need, other than someone it will hatch for. Truly wonderful. Brother, tell me, what has befallen you so that you would wish to die? Certainly it was something horrendous; the last time we spoke, you said life was sweet."
"The King has gained a brutality I have not seen before. Just last week, he killed twenty two servants just for the hell of it. But apparently, they die too easily, so he turns to us. It has only gotten worse. He sends us out across the country with missions dedicated merely to scare the towns people into submission. He wants us to kill indiscriminately, so no one seeks to join you. We no longer wish to live this way."
"I see. Very well. Know, however, that if there were any other option, any way to break the bonds..."
"I know. You are as valiant as ever, Eragon, my brother."
"Step Brother, actually."
"Is that so? Never the less. Do what you must."
"Murtagh, you are a Dragon Rider. I refuse to allow you to die a soldiers death. Fly, be merry with Thorn one last time. Let all your inhibitions go, and be happy. I will lull you into a sleep with magic, and lower you gently to the ground, so your bodies are not tarnished."
"Thank you Eragon. Step or not, I could not have asked for a better member of my family. Rest easy at night, feel no grief or sorrow, for you will have given me the thing that we both want the most." Murtagh said, tears in his eyes.
Eragon bowed his head solemnly. He watched as Murtagh flew through the sky, shouted fiercely for joy, at one with his dragon. Thorn roared happily, and red flames shot from his jaws. Eragon let them have their moment together for what seemed like an eternity, before he murmured those fatal words. He watched Murtagh's eyes droop sleepily, as he pitched forward in the saddle. Thorn's wing beats grew less frequent until he finally stilled, and they began to fall. Tears were in Eragon's eyes as he grasped them with magic, and slowly descended to the ground. He knelt there in grief, his palm absently stroking the dragon egg in his lap.
Here is where this fic really begins to deviate from the other one, so after this huge chapter, they will be about 6 pages each, (as opposed to this one being 12). This was just a huge chunk of everything that is the same so far, so... yeah!
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